Walt Gardner has the standard issue schools can’t do much for poor kids op-ed in today’s CSM. He cites Washington, D.C. as his example, focusing on the pretty modest results from the D.C. voucher program as evidence that moving kids to other, presumably better, schools doesn’t matter much. Only one small problem with his argument: The voucher sector is really the only part of education in D.C. you can say that about. The public charter schools — even accounting for more than a few lousy ones in the city — are moving the ball and the good charters, of which there are many, disprove Gardner’s theory. Meanwhile, overall, the traditional D.C. public schools, long thought unreformable are, well, improving. These kids didn’t change income levels, diets, households, neighborhoods, parents, health care plans, or weather…yet they’re doing better because of something the, you know, schools are doing. I’m all for tackling all those other things but let’s not sell the schools short. (My take on the two manifestos Gardner references is here).